Ten boys accused of raping girl, 13, at school
by Bria King
A mother, having been raped three times in her life with no redress, fears the same outcome for her teenage daughter, who reports being gang raped one year ago by 10 boys at her secondary school.
Reports are that sometime after 4 p.m. on Monday, September 24, 2018, 10 male students took turns having sex with the then 13-year-old girl in the music room at their secondary school.
SEARCHLIGHT has confirmed that the matter was reported to both the Ministry of Education and to the police by officials of the school, which is located on the leeward side of St Vincent.
A memo sent to the Ministry of Education, a copy of which was seen by SEARCHLIGHT, reports that the girl was discovered by a teacher in the music room with the boys. She was taken to the office wearing only a vest and her school skirt, where she is reported as telling teachers that “them rape me”.
It further states that the mother was contacted and upon being informed of the matter, she indicated that she wished to report the matter to the police.
“I felt bad about it because I got raped. I got raped three times in my life and nothing really come of it so it’s like, you know how they say from generation to generation? The same things that happen to me in life are the same things that are happening to [my daughter] and I’m saying to myself, I don’t want that to happen anymore. I want to make a stop of it,” the mother said on Tuesday, exactly one year since the incident took place.
With tears in her eyes, the mother said she was also raped for the first time when she was 13. At the time, people who knew about it said that “I give my body to these boys” and some have said the same of her daughter.
The mother said her daughter told her that she was lured to the music room, where the incident took place, by a female schoolmate. Although she reports that her daughter seems to be coping well now, the mother of two said that when the incident happened last year, her first child would often jump out of her sleep as though she were having nightmares. The teenager also had to speak with the counsellor at her school.
“I keep asking her at times what is happening, sometimes [she] there like she’s lost out of the world but from since she go back [to school], she has been doing well because I speak to her everyday,” the woman said.
No father wishes to hear that his daughter had been raped, much more to have such an incident occurring on his birthday. But that is the horror story that this girl’s father has had to live with over the past year.
The man, who also spoke to SEARCHLIGHT last Tuesday, on his birthday, said he was at home when he heard what happened and that he feels bad because “up to now nothing has been done about it. Every time me birthday come around is like it go flash back to me”.
He said he never expected something like that would happen to his child. The father said he frequented the police station in his community to ask about the incident and on a few occasions, he saw some of the boys with their parents at the station, but no charges are forthcoming.
He added that one of the worst things about the incident is that the accused males, who ranged in age from 13 to 16 years old at the time of the incident, still attend the same school as his daughter.
SEARCHLIGHT understands that the accused boys were suspended from school for 10 days (the maximum period permissable under Section 54 of the Education Act), after the incident occurred last year.
“I think justice should’ve been served, something should have been done. They should’ve been expelled out of that school and maybe go into another school because if I see you still going to that school and I’m still going to that school, that’s going to bring back memories of what you did to me,” the mother said, imagining what her daughter must be going through.
Both parents are calling for justice to be served in the matter. And they continue to question why, one year later, no charges have been laid against any of the accused boys.
Assistant superintendent of police (ASP) Juliana Browne-Charles, the officer in charge of the Western Division — the division in which the school is located — said it is not that nothing is being done, but that matters like this one take time.
“Most of the time, when an allegation is made against a person for rape or unlawful sexual intercourse, the accused is arrested. The same thing happened to those boys,” ASP Browne Charles said. “They were taken up and they were interviewed because they are underage, none of them were 19. They were 14, 16, 15…that age range.”
According to a legal expert, if a boy under 19 has sexual intercourse with a girl over the age of 13 but under the age of 15, he can be charged for statutory rape. However, if at the time of the incident he believed the girl was at least 15 years old, the young man is entitled to a statutory defence, and can be found not guilty. However, in cases where sexual intercourse was forced, it does not matter how old the boy is, he may be charged for regular rape.
ASP Browne-Charles added that the file is currently with the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) for review so a decision can be made as to whether the boys involved should be charged.
SEARCHLIGHT attempted to reach Director of Public Prosecutions Sejilla McDowall thrice on Wednesday for comment but we were told that she was in a meeting in one instance and out of office on the other occasions. McDowall also could not be reached just before press time on Thursday.
The Code for Prosecutors in St Vincent and the Grenadines outlines special considerations that may apply to the prosecution of children. It states that the public interest will not normally require the prosecution of a child who is a first offender and if the alleged offence is not a serious one. Factors considered as to whether a child is prosecuted include the seriousness of the offence, age and family circumstances “in particular, whether the parents appear willing and able to exercise effective discipline and control of the child”.
Article 3.1 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is also a factor; “In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration”.